3D printing is beginning to make a huge impact within the field of medicine, as doctors, surgeons and hospital personnel are beginning to realize the benefits that the technology provides. Surgeries are being sped up, patients are understanding their upcoming surgeries better, and post-surgical healing is happening quicker than ever.
Back in February, we reported on a company called Zdravprint which was looking to bring 3D printed casts to market. Today, we have been informed by Zdravprint that they have successfully been able to do just that, plus much more.
“Zdravprint has significantly moved forward,” Nadir Khabdulin, of Maxfield Capital Venture Fund, a seed investor of Zdravprint, tells 3DPrint.com. “They have expanded their range of products, gained traction and signed several agreements with clients. One of them is big hospital which now is using 3D printed casts to cure their patients”
That hospital is NNIITO, and they aren’t only 3D printing casts for their patients, but they are also printing finger splints, models of injured bones which doctors are using to train with prior to surgery, and casting molds which are used for bone replacement bipolymers.
“They sell almost 10 splints per week,” Khabdulin tells us.
Surprisingly, these medical aids are not 3D printed on large scale industrial 3D printers, but are actually being fabricated using a MakerBot Replicator 2. It all started just 2 months ago, when Zdravprint began integrating a set of 3D printing applications into the large traumatology and orthopedics hospital which is located in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia.
“They use the apps to input biometric parameters of the patient, then a 3D model of a finger splint is calculated in our cloud customizer and sent to the printer,” CEO of Zdravprint, Fedor Aptekarev tells 3DPrint.com. “In 5 to 30 minutes, an individual splint is ready to be applied to the injured phalanx. Within two months, local doctors helped us create a set of models for frequent cases that we integrated in our cloud customizer. 3D printed splints are a hot topic in the media so we received requests for this technology to be integrated in hospitals outside [of] Russia. We’re working on regulatory procedures.”
While the 3D printers and the apps were initially intended to be used to 3D print splints and casts, doctors who had been using the technology soon found even more uses for it. The doctors, with the help of Zdravprint, began taking 3D CT scan data and printing these as tangible 3D models as well.
In addition to this, doctors also began using the 3D printers to produce individual bone replacement implants.
“First we model and 3D print a casting mold of the bone defect out dissolvable filaments,” Aptekarev tells us. “Then the biopolymer is injected into the mold. After it hardens, the mold is dissolved in appropriate liquid and the implant is sent for pre-surgery testing and cleaning. Before 3D printing [was available] they could not produce individual implants inside the hospital.”
While these advancements for this hospital seem quite fascinating, Aptekarev tells us that Zdravprint isn’t done innovating quite yet. Next they plan to build a large 3D printer which will be capable of printing braces for knees, elbows and shoulders. Additionally, they plan to expand outside of Russia, with the launch of a new website called healthprint.io in the near future.
What do you think about the use of desktop 3D printers such as a MakerBot Replicator 2, in creating casts, splints, medical models and actual bone replacements for patients? How soon will we begin to see all hospitals use this technology? Discuss in the Zdravprint forum thread on 3DPB.com.